OROMO (Ethiopia) (EHRAF




IndexAfricaEthiopia → Oromo


Also featured: Nuer, Kaffa, Udhuk, Nuer, Majangir, Afar, Amhara, Qemant

“Marriage in Oromo culture is the responsibility of both the boy’s and the girl’s families rather than being only that of two individuals. The girl is usually chosen by the boy’s parents on the basis of her character and the honourability of her family. Wealth on both sides can be one of the criteria, but not always. The age usually varies between 10 and 14 for the girl and between 16 and 20 for the boy. The contract is completed only after paying a dowry to the girl’s parents. The nature of the dowry is different from one area to another; it consists of money plus a domestic animal, either a cow or a few sheep. The period of full-term engagement is from 2 to 3 years. During this period, the girl receives instruction from mother, uncles’ and elder brothers’ wives, while the boy helps the father in clearing, ploughing, planting or harvesting the crops or also in helping with the father’s trade. After this period, both families then get ready for the wedding celebration. Virginity before marriage is highly valued for the girl and her parents; otherwise her and her family’s reputation would be ruined at the wedding time. After the wedding, the young man and the young girl finally realise their new roles of husband and wife and of future parents.”[1]


Data suggest that the Oromo “[…] used FGM [female genital mutilation] on women aged from 4 years to puberty […]”[2].




Further Reading:


  • Holcomb, B. K. (1973) Oromo marriage in Wallaga Province, Ethiopia, J Ethiopian Stud 11,1:107-42



Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. Volume I. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology

Last revised: Oct. 2004


[1]Mbaya, Maweja (2002) Linguistic Taboo in African Marriage Context: A Study of the Oromo Laguu, Nordic J African Studies 11,2:224-35 [http://www.njas.helsinki.fi/pdf-files/vol11num2/mbaya.pdf]

[2] Missailidis, K. & Gebre- Medhin, M. (2000) Female genital mutilation in eastern Ethiopia, Lancet, 07/08/2000;356(9224):137-8